There is little doubt that our country will move forward over the next few years, and I certainly hope that Bessemer does as well. One area that must continue to improve is education.
Education is the key to personal advancement in our society. Unfortunately, disparity in education in our state is commonplace, and educators in less advantaged situations have to be creative in their attempts to level the field.
U. S. News and World Report recently released their list of America’s best leaders, and topping the list was Freeman Hrabowski III, an African American from Birmingham who took part in the Children’s Crusade march for civil rights in 1963.
He was arrested, he was spat on by Bull Conner, he spent five nights in jail, but he learned from the experience that “the more we expect of children, the more they can do.”
Hrabowski went on to receive a Ph.D. in education and is now the president of the University of Maryland – Baltimore County.
One of the first issues he tackled was against the subculture in which those who make good grades in school are “selling out” or “acting white.” I have learned from school personnel in Bessemer that this attitude is present among some in their classes. They learn this in their homes, I am told.
Fortunately, not all young people are being influenced in this way. They realize that good grades are not “selling out”, rather they are “investing in” one’s future. Rather than “acting white” they are “acting smart,” because good grades get you into college, and a college education gets you a good job. And a good job gets you health insurance and secures your future.
Hrabrowski has turned UMBC in to a math and science pipeline by drawing on minority and low-income students who might otherwise be left behind. And he did this while holding those students to the same high standards as others. His students met and exceeded those standards.
In Bessemer we will have a new superintendent along with a new high school.
Our superintendent, and the educators in our system, should increase their efforts in inspiring young people, just as Hrabowski has done.
Bessemer education has made great strides over the last few years.
If you expect more, you get more, Hrabowski learned, so from our educators, we will expect more.